Just Another Brick (or rock) in the Wall


I’ve always been fascinated by rock walls. They are big puzzles really. I love the different kinds of rock, the way they fit together, how the colors work together. My dream house would have a rock exterior.

When I see a rock wall (like the one in the picture I took at John Ball Zoo…this one is up on a hill, up a kazillion perilous steps, but worth the hike) I think about the work it took to put it together. The planning, the blood blisters (did you know I have an irrational fear of blood blisters?), the worn-out-back work of lifting all the rocks. I am awed by the craftsmanship it took to construct such a thing of use and beauty. If well maintained, those walls last a good long time.

The other day I printed out the first three chapters of the book I’m writing. I pulled out my trusty purple pen and grabbed a cup of coffee. Editing time.

For me, writing the first draft of something is like gathering the rocks and putting them into a pile. Editing is figuring out, over several swipes, which rocks will work and where they’ll fit best. It’s a process which cannot be rushed. It takes concentration. Sometimes a scene or character I thought was absolutely perfect just will not fit. I save it for another wall that I’ll build later on.

In my experience, novel writing is like building a wall with the hopes that it will be both useful and beautiful.

Luckily for me, writing doesn’t usually result in blood blisters.

11 Comments on “Just Another Brick (or rock) in the Wall

  1. Love the analogy about the rock wall. And thanks for writing short blog posts that I can read on my way out the door. 🙂 I need to take a cue from that on my own blog. IT’S HARD! As several writers have said, “I am sorry my letter is so long. I had not the time to make it shorter.” < Not an excuse for those who want to follow the path of excellence.


  2. Susie,
    Great thoughts, as usual. I’m curious about your process. Do you reread your novel from the beginning quite often as you write? I’m gaining steam on the novel I’m writing, but I feel like I’ve forgotten what I said several chapters back…need to read it and maybe jot down a few notes so I can remember without having to reread it.


    • Robyn, I do a lot ( A LOT a lot) of prewriting to prepare for the first draft. Because of that and the copious notes I keep, I’m well acquainted with my novels. It’s cool to reread, though, if that’s what helps you! Notes are great, too. If you work with Scrivener you could have a “pin board” for all the notes and chapter summaries.


      • Thanks for the tips Susie! I haven’t done lots of prewriting so I’ll probably need to reread and make notes to keep things straight. It’s just exciting to finally be working on this project instead of just thinking about it. I’m writing it in Word, but I think I may use yWriter to summarize, etc. Happy writing to you!


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